Explore Istana, 'meet' presidents on 3 new trails using mobile app

ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Temasek Polytechnic students using the LocoMole app to scan a bust of former president Yusof Ishak, which then enables them to play a video on its sculptor, at the Istana Heritage Gallery yesterday. They were on the Istana Heritage Gallery Trail, one
Temasek Polytechnic students using the LocoMole app to scan a bust of former president Yusof Ishak, which then enables them to play a video on its sculptor, at the Istana Heritage Gallery yesterday. They were on the Istana Heritage Gallery Trail, one of the three new trails.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Developed with students' help, educational trails enable visitors to explore key places using augmented reality

Known for his passion for the arts, former president Ong Teng Cheong had aspired to be a conductor in his younger days.

Throughout his career, he was an ardent supporter of the local arts scene. For instance, he first mooted the idea for The Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay in the 1970s, and was later also involved in its design.

Through a mobile educational Presidents' Trail, visitors are now able to learn more about his story, as well as the background stories of the other six presidents - Mr Yusof Ishak, Dr Benjamin Sheares, Mr Devan Nair, Mr Wee Kim Wee, Mr S R Nathan and Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam. The trail covers seven places in the Civic District, each with a story about a president and his contributions to the country.

It was launched yesterday together with two other mobile trails: the Istana Park Trail and the Istana Heritage Gallery Trail. They aim to make the Istana more accessible to the public, Dr Tan said at the launch.

"It is easier for people to come any time, rather than four or five times (a year) during the Istana's Open House," he told reporters.

He added: "I am grateful to the staff and the students for spending months to curate and design the trails, and present them in a form that is meaningful."

The Presidents' Trail was jointly developed by students from Temasek Polytechnic and Yusof Ishak Secondary School, in collaboration with the President's Office.

The Istana Park and Istana Heritage Gallery trails were developed by Singapore Management University (SMU) students, in a similar collaboration.

Users can follow the new trails, along with existing ones, through the LocoMole app.

The trails are based on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which helps to suggest places to visit. They also make use of augmented reality, image recognition and beacons, which function as indoor GPS systems, to heighten interactivity.

For example, when one walks inside the Esplanade on the Presidents' Trail, the app will push out a story about Mr Ong.

Users are also given a list of suggestions on things to do, such as learning about the Esplanade's story through information panels on its walls, visiting its library and enjoying its art and music.

At the Fullerton Hotel, users will be introduced to Mr Nathan, who worked there when it was the Fullerton Building, as a seaman's welfare officer early in his career.

The Istana Park Trail takes visitors on a tour of the flora and fauna around the park, while the Istana Heritage Gallery Trail showcases the Istana's history through interactive elements. These allow visitors to learn more about the artefacts, artworks and gifts on display at the gallery in the Istana Park.

By scanning the various exhibition panels and objects with the app's augmented reality function, visitors can read stories about the history of the place. They can also enjoy quizzes, games and related trivia.

Mr Png Bee Hin, chief executive of LDR Technology, which created the app, said: "If we just want information, we can Google it easily. But the trails are different because they provide an experience."

The students spent about three months creating the trails, including research. Anushka Pradhan, 14, a Secondary 2 student at Yusof Ishak Secondary School, said: "My favourite part of creating the trail was getting to know more about the presidents and learning their stories."

SMU senior lecturerJayarani Tan said it was exciting to see students from different schools at SMU create the trails together.

Third-year Temasek Polytechnic student Leon Tan, 19, said: "We also hope to attract younger audiences through the trails on the app."

WATCH THE VIDEO: Augmented reality gives mobile trails a boost. str.sg/4b83

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Explore Istana, 'meet' presidents on 3 new trails using mobile app'. Print Edition | Subscribe